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THE    CHINESE    MIND                       Q]

last a few days or weeks or it may extend to a generation
until she has borne him children, who, after their success ir
examinations, come back for their mother and then find thai
the gorgeous mansion has disappeared and in its place is an
old, old grave, with a hole underground, where lies a dead old
mother fox. For she is only one of those fox spirits the Chinese
delight to tell about. Sometimes she leaves behind a note
saying that she was sorry to leave them, but that she was a fox
and only wanted to enjoy human life, and now, since she has
seen them prosper, she is grateful and hopes they will forgive her.
This is typical of the Chinese imagination which, without
soaring aloft to God-like heights, invests the creatures of its
mind with human passions and human sorrows. It has the
pagan virtue of accepting the imaginary with the real, and
has no desire for a world perfectly rationalized and completely
explained. This quality of the Chinese imagination is so little
known that I will give here a translation of a tale, The Tale of
CKienniang) handed down from the T'ang Dynasty. I don't
know whether the story is true or not, but the affair happened
in the years around A.D. 690, during the reign of the Empress
Wuhou. Our novels, dramas and scholars3 works are full of
this type of story, in which the supernatural is made believable
because it is made human.

Ch'ienniang was the daughter of Mr. Chang Yi, an
official in Hunan. She had a cousin by the name of Wang
Chou, who was a brilliant and handsome young man. They
had grown up together from childhood, and as her father
was very fond of the young boy, he had said that he would
take Wang Chou as his son-in-law. This .promise they had
both heard, and as she was the only child, and they were
very close together, their love grew from day to day. They
were now grown-up young people, and even had intimate
relationships with each other. Unfortunately, her father
was the only man who failed to perceive this. One day a
young official came to beg for her hand from her father, and,
ignoring or forgetting his early promise, he consented. Ch'ien-
niang, torn between love and filial piety, was ready to die
with grief, while the young man was so disgusted that he